- Western europe
The Ultimate Hipster Guide to Paris
The movie Before Sunset is one of my favorite movie of all time. It's a sequel to the movie Before Sunrise where 2 travelers meet on a train, fall in love and travel through Vienna in one day before they had to split. I know that sounds cliche but the sequel, Before Sunset, is nothing like that. The movie sets 7 years apart from the first, where it began when they meet again accidentally in Paris and they decided to go for a walk. The whole movie revolves around that walk and the cultivating conversation they have about life. It's a hipster movie for sure but one that had the most impact on me personally, turned me into a solo traveler and brought me to Paris.
The movie takes the audience through some of the most beautiful hidden parts of Paris. After I watched that movie, I decided that if I was going to go to Paris, those would be the places I'd visit and so I did. I spent 3 days in Paris and with my nerdy plan in mind, I was able to experience Paris as no other travelers will. This is my version of Paris and I think you will love it.Table of Contents
- France Travel Video
- Where to Stay in Paris
- How to Get to Paris
- How to Get Around Paris
- Travel Insurance
Hipster Things to Do in Paris
- The Le Pure Cafe
- Walk the Coulée verte René-Dumont park
- Go on a book shopping spree
- Be creeped out by the Catacomb
- Climb the Arc de Triomphe for the best view of Paris
- Visit the Louvre on Tuesday
- Marvel at the interior of the National Museum of Natural History
- Walk the Pont Alexandre III bridge
- And of course the Notre Dame
- Digital Nomad Friendly Cafe
- Further Reading for France
France Travel Video
Where to Stay in Paris
Budget/Mid-Range - Le Regent Montmartre Hostel - 34.36 USD/Night (Dorm) | 86.41/Night (Double Bed Private)
Le Regent Montmartre Hostel is a really cool hostel located near the famed Montmartre district and only a few minutes walk away from a metro station. It is one of the few hostels in Paris that is cheap enough and include free breakfast (including as many croissants as you like!). The dorm rooms have a built-in toilet, comfy beds and friendly staff. There was nothing more I could ask for.
The hostel is located near the "Barbès - Rochechouart" metro station and from there we can launch ourselves into the city easily and get to the exploration part faster.
How to Get to Paris
The best way to get here is to fly directly to Paris. I would recommend you browse through Skyscanner or Momondo to find all the cheap flights from where you live to France and compare them so that you can find the one best fit for your itinerary.
If you are coming from nearby cities, say Rennes, buses might be the easiest option. I took a bus operated by Ouibus from Rennes bus station to the Central Paris-Bercy station. The whole trip took 4.5 hrs. From the Paris Bercy train station, you can take the train to the hostel from the Bercy Metro station. You can also never go wrong with FlixBus as they are run widely throughout Europe.
Train is also a viable option if you are short on time but not money. You can book the train from the Voyage SNCF website. Paris has many train stations so be sure to get the train that drops you off near a metro station or your hostel if you can.
How to Get Around Paris
Many of the places that I went to are pretty far apart from each other so I would suggest you to buy a one or multi-days Metro pass. You can get the pass from the ticket machine in most metro stations including the "Barbès - Rochechouart" one.
Walking is also my preferred way of transportation especially in the area highly concentrated with beautiful attractions. For example, if you take a metro to Hôtel de Ville station, you can walk to almost all the famous attractions in that area like the Louvre and the Notre Dame in one go.
Traveling here is quite expensive and not very budget-friendly but there are options. You can expect to spend around 50 - 70 USD per day per person for food, accommodation and transportation.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to France, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
Hipster Things to Do in Paris
The Le Pure Cafe
This is the cafe that was used in one of the scene in the movie, Before Sunset and the cafe really shows what I would expect a good Parisian cafe would look like. The outside is painted red with the iconic cafe sign above the wooden entrance. It is located perfectly in between 2 streets so there is no way you can miss it. Fortunately, the cafe is quite far away from all tourist attractions and most don't bother coming this far so what you will find here is only the locals, drinking coffee and living their lives.
Walk the Coulée verte René-Dumont park
The Coulée verte René-Dumont is an elevated park built on top of an obsoleted railway infrastructure located on the eastern part of Paris. What's awesome about this place is that it is almost 5km long and even though Paris is a busy city, walking in this park is totally the opposite of that. The park is filled with trees and yet you are still able to see all the beautiful architecture around it. It was as If I was walking in Paris without anyone except me and the city.
Grab a good book, find the perfect spot, sit and enjoy your favorite book among the locals.
Getting to the park is quite a challenge. First, take the metro to Paris Gare de Lyon station and walk east toward the Avenue Daumesnil street. Along this road, you would be able to find stairs going up the park every few blocks. If you want to know where exactly the stairs are, see the Street View below.
Go on a book shopping spree
Paris has been the center of literature where all the cool writers hung out for centuries and that is what makes bookstores and its collection so interesting to browse through. I love books and Paris was like heaven for me. The city is filled with amazing second-hand and old book stores including one of the oldest one, the Shakespeare and Company. I found myself spending hours each day here hunting for the classics that I might not have found else where. For a good selection of both classic and new, the Shakespeare and Company is a good place to check out. Even if you are not a fan of books, the interior of this place will still captivate you.
If you are looking for second-hand books, check out the San Francisco bookstore. They have a good collection of old books from all categories in good condition. I spent so many hours in the sci-fi section hunting for old books written by Asimov. The location of this place is shown below.
Be creeped out by the Catacomb
I made a promise to myself that I would go down the catacomb, a massive underground cemetery filled with skeletons that spread across the city, once I got to Paris. Although the line was super long and I had to wait almost 2 hours to get in, it was worth the wait. In my mind, I was expecting the catacomb to be small and the skulls and skeletons to only be visible in one area but I was dead wrong. It took me 20 minutes to walk the whole passage and from the beginning to the end, it was filled with skeletons. There is a photo opportunity for every one here.
The Catacomb opens from Tuesday to Saturday every week. The gate opens at 10AM and close at 8PM. Go as early as possible to avoid the long queue because the line will only get longer the more you wait. If you can go there around an hour before the gate opens, do it. They only allow a certain amount of people to go in at a time and the queue can get long fast.
The location of the catacomb is shown below.
Climb the Arc de Triomphe for the best view of Paris
If you want to see the best view of Paris from above, don't go climb the Eiffel tower! How would you see the Eiffel tower and the city when you are on top of it? My suggestion is to climb something else so that you can get the view of Paris WITH the Eiffel tower.
The Arc de Triomphe was a good candidate for this. Even though, the Arc is a popular attraction in itself, not many knows that you could climb it to the top and get the perfect view of Paris. It will be a tough climb for those who are not in shape but trust me (or my photos), the view is worth it.
Visit the Louvre on Tuesday
Why Tuesday you asked? Well, it's because Louvre is closed that day. Yes, the best day to visit this museum is when it is closed. If you are like me who enjoys the architecture but not so much the queuing and the museum then Tuesday is the best day to visit because you will get to see the magnificent glass pyramid without the crazy crowds that usually form in front of the museum on other days.
If you are a photographer, Tuesday is your best bet to get the perfect photos of the architecture without tourists interference.
Marvel at the interior of the National Museum of Natural History
The interior of this museum is stunning. Within the museum is a massive hallway dedicated to depicting evolution right at the center of the hall. That together with the color-shifting ceiling was quite a sight to behold. I also learned a lot about all the extinct animals and how human played a role in their demise. It was surprisingly educational even for an adult.
Walk the Pont Alexandre III bridge
If you want a great view of the Seine river and the Eiffel tower, this bridge is a good place for you. The bridge itself was quite extravagant. It is decorated with massive golden sculptures on both sides. Many consider this bridge to be the most beautiful bridge in Paris and I have to agree with them. The view, the sculptures, the ornaments and the sheer size of it had my jaw dropped to the ground all the way through.
Be aware of those people who approach you and ask you to sign a petition or for a donation. These people operate illegally without a license and your money may not be for the cause they claim to be. Just reject them outright and walkway.
And of course the Notre Dame
This cathedral needs no introduction from me. No matter how hipster you are, you will still find this place extremely attractive not because of the cathedral but because of the types of people you will find here. On a good day, you will find street performers, tourists and the locals alike chilling out and enjoying themselves with one another. It was probably one of the most lively place in Paris.
When you are there, simply walk across the river to the east side of the Seine, find a quiet place and then sit, hang your legs down the river and watch the sun set behind the cathedral.
Digital Nomad Friendly Cafe
The Strada Cafe Rue Monge is a hipster cafe with a peaceful and calm ambiance, perfect for working. It has an awesome coffee, bakery, and friendly staff. The Wifi was good and located not too far from a metro station and the tourist attractions.
Further Reading for France
I hope you found this guide helpful in your trip planning. If you want to read more about France, I have written a few more travel guides, all listed here:
- Looking for a complete travel guide to France? Check out my 2 Weeks in France.
- Are you traveling to France as part of a bigger Europe trip? Be sure to check out my 3 months itinerary for Europe from Portugal all the way to Sweden.
- Bordeaux is a city known for its wine, laid-back vibe and beautiful architecture. Here’s a travel guide on things to do and see in Bordeaux.
- Avignon, the city of antiquity is hard to miss when you are planning a trip to France. Here’s a complete guide on things to do in Avignon and the surrounding cities.
- Looking to go hike in the French Alps? Do not go without seeing this guide: The Ultimate Day Hiking Guide to the French Alps.
- Not convinced by my words? Here are 125 photos that will inspire you to visit Europe.
- You can also watch my France travel video here: "Dear France" travel video.
- To see all articles about France, visit France Travel Guide page.
- Looking for a place to go after France? How about Spain, Germany or Switzerland? Visit our Spain travel guide page, Germany travel guide page, and Switzerland travel guide page for more.
- Looking for more travel guides for Europe? You can find more on my Europe Travel Guide page.
- Or if you want something more specific to the region, visit our Western Europe Travel Guide page.
- For more of my travel guides like this, visit my Destinations page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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